Henry Hudson Trail
|Henry Hudson Trail|
Along the southernmost segment of the trail, in Marlboro Township. Abandoned rails can be seen on both sides.
|Length||24 mi (39 km)|
|Location||Monmouth County, New Jersey|
|Use||Cycling, Running, Hiking|
|Right of way||Monmouth County Agricultural Railroad, Freehold and Atlantic Highlands Railroad|
The Henry Hudson Trail is a rail trail in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The trail is named for Henry Hudson, who explored the harbor at Atlantic Highlands and the Raritan Bayshore coastline in the early 1600s. The trail is not near the Hudson River.
The 24-mile-long (39 km), 10-foot-wide (3.0 m) paved multi-use trail is part of the Monmouth County Park System. The rail trail traverses the Raritan Bayshore and connects inland to Freehold Borough using the former rights of way of several rail lines. Although trees line much of the trail, it affords some views of surrounding wetlands, streams, woodlands and fields.
The Garden State Parkway is the dividing line between the northern and southern sections of the trail. The northern section runs 12 miles east from the Aberdeen-Keyport border to Highlands, north of and roughly parallel to NJ Route 36. A missing link in Atlantic Highlands requires on-road travel between Avenue D and the Atlantic Highlands marina. The southern (inland) section runs south from Matawan to Freehold. A long missing link in Marlboro divides this inland section into its own north and south segments.
The property for the inland sections is currently railbanked by New Jersey Transit (NJT), which leases the line for trail usage to the Monmouth County Park System. The trail is administered by the Monmouth County Park System and is leased through 2020 for use as a trail. If future economic conditions warrant resuming operation, NJT reserves the right to restore rail service at any time. The railroad line was never officially abandoned, unlike most rail trails.
The Henry Hudson Trail was the first rail-trail developed in Monmouth County, and was joined by the Union Transportation rail-trail in 2010.
The southern segment of the inland section runs from County Route 537 in Freehold (where it runs past a closed youth detention center) north to Allen Road in Marlboro (near Marlboro High School and Route 79). This section was opened in 2006. In 2013 a connecting trail was built from a point near the Allen Road terminus to the trails of the county's Big Brook Park.
The northern segment of the inland section runs from Wyncrest Road in Marlboro north to Church Street in Matawan, generally paralleling Route 79 for much of the way. This section was opened in 2006, with a short additional stretch completed in 2011.
The Atlantic section running east-west was the first to be developed, opening in 1992. The route roughly parallels Route 36 from the Garden State Parkway to Atlantic Highlands, with trail heads at Lloyd Road and Clark Street in Aberdeen/Keyport and Avenue D in Atlantic Highlands. This section suffers from many busy road crossings. East of Avenue D, a one mile (2 km) on-road detour is required to connect to the Bayshore extension to Highlands.
The 1.4 miles (2.3 km) Bayshore extension (formerly Bayshore Trail) opened in April 2009 and extends the Henry Hudson Trail eastward from the Atlantic Highlands marina below the bluffs of Atlantic Highlands, ending at Popamora Point Park at the western end of Highlands. As of August 2014, this section of trail is open and passable, there are warning signs that caution about the rough surface caused by damage from Hurricane Sandy.
The Marlboro Township section of the rail line began in the 1860s as the Monmouth County Agricultural Railroad. The initial discussion concerning the construction of the railroad began in the 1840s, as an improved means of hauling produce to Keyport docks. The initial effort failed and began again in 1867 with work being completed about 1880. The railroad carried produce, manufactured goods and marl fertilizer to the rail pier in Keyport. The marl was dug from the large pits owned by O.C. Herbert in Marlboro. The railroad can be seen on a map from 1873. All service ceased in the 1950s. The original 9-mile (14 km) "Atlantic" section is built on the former right-of-way of the Freehold and Atlantic Highlands Railroad, which was later absorbed by the Central Railroad of New Jersey.
Throughout the 1990s, railbanking of the line between Freehold and Matawan was considered. Freight service over this stretch of track had ceased in phases; first in 1973 and then completely by Conrail in 1983. Ownership of the line changed hands several times, eventually going to New Jersey Transit (NJT). NJT, in turn, selected the rail corridor as one of three options for its MOM (Middlesex–Ocean–Monmouth) commuter rail line proposal. Eventually, NJT removed the Freehold-Matawan line from MOM consideration and leased the line to Monmouth County for trail usage.
In September 2009, a portion of the southern section of the trail from Texas Road (Matawan) to Greenwood Road (Marlboro) was closed for an 18-month project for a Superfund cleanup at the site of the former Imperial oil company.
The final two "missing links" are on hold as NJT has resurrected the idea of utilizing the rail corridor for its MOM commuter rail line. According to the Sierra Club, should the transit agency opt to restore commuter service along the line, it would be the first instance in U.S history where a rail trail reverted to railway usage.
- Henry Hudson Trail Brochure (PDF). Monmouth County Park System. 2010. p. 1.
- "Big Brook Park". Monmouth County Park System. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
- "Volunteers plant trees along the Union Transportation Trail". Monmouth County Park System. November 6, 2010. Retrieved April 12, 2011.
- "Bike path nearly done". Asbury Park Press. March 6, 2009.[dead link]
- Ellis, History of Monmouth County (1885), p. 383
- Asbury Park Press. September 11, 2009. Missing or empty
- "Matawan-Freehold RR added to Transit study". North/South Brunswick Sentinel. October 25, 2001. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30.
- Monmouth County Parks page on trail
- Description of southern and middle sections
- Description of "Atlantic", ("eastern", original, or "old") section
- Descriptive Henry Hudson Trail site with many photos
- Monmouth County Park System Map
- NJ Transit MOM Project Report